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Smartphones connecting to automobiles

July 30, 2014

An international research and consultancy firm revealed some interesting data regarding smartphone usage and its pairing with automobiles. Parks Associates, which creates research capital for companies ranging from small start-ups to Fortune 500, recently reported that connected car features are quickly and broadly gaining consumer acceptance. And it seems those with connective car features will be first in line down the road to be lured by additional connective features. More than three-fourths of U.S. vehicle owners with at least one connected car feature said that such features would impact their next car purchase.

Smartphones connectivity is now being installed in many cars.
More than half of all respondents called connected services “very important" in guiding their next vehicle purchase, according to Parks and Associates.

Not surprisingly, smartphone users are much more likely than non-smartphone owners to find connected car services an attractive option. For example, 37 percent of current vehicle owners in U.S. broadband households are very interested in the ability to view maps or receive directions. Meanwhile, the number of smartphone owners interested in receiving maps or directions is 48 percent.

“Over 80 percent of U.S. broadband households with a mobile phone service have a smartphone, which is a gateway device for connected cars,” said Jennifer Kent, senior analyst with Parks Associates. “Smartphones have raised expectations of what connected devices can do, and Google and Apple are among the companies trying to build on those expectations in the connected car space.”

Connected car features include Bluetooth capability, allowing a driver to connect his smartphone to the car's built-in speakers to make hands-free phone calls. While Bluetooth is vastly popular, Parks Associates found that the most desired connectivity feature was the ability to view maps and receive directions.

Only a matter of time before cars connect to phones

Kent added that Google and Apple have long competed for connective applications and services—from wireless speakers to exercise applications that sync with a smartphone—and she wasn't surprised that the technology is now popular in the automotive market.

While Apple will be working with car companies such as BMW, GM and Honda, Google announced a coalition with Audi and Hyundai—among others—to bring smartphone technology to vehicles across the globe, according to Top Gear.

“Both of their solutions bring their mobile operating systems to the car through a 'mirroring' approach that lets the user control certain smartphone functions and apps through the car's display, physical buttons or voice control,” Kent said.

Insurers want to connect with cars

Parks Associates also predicted that there would be vast growth for usage-based insurance programs over the next five years. This type of insurance program would link to a smartphone or device and send driver behavior data to insurers, which might allow some people to get discounts if they are driving fewer miles per day. While these programs account for less than 5 percent of all private passenger auto policies throughout the nation, Parks Associates said insurance industries are likely to act fast and implement more connected car options to learn about vehicle performance and driver behavior.

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